At the end of Daredevil Season 2, Frank Castle embraced the title of "The Punisher," and reached a level of notoriety in New York City that rivals Mat Murdock's own Daredevil character. There's just one difference: Matt Murdock is alive and well, and only a very few people know he and Daredevil are one and the same. Frank Castle, on the other hand, is known to "The Punisher." He's also known as deceased. Which is why at the beginning of the new series we meet a guy named Pete. Who Is Pete Castigliano? And what the heck happened to Frank Castle?
Oh come now, we all know better. Frank Castle didn't actually die in that shootout, the police just thought he did. And much like Matt Murdock realizes at the end of The Defenders, he can't live two lives. One of his personas has to die. For Murdock, he allows everyone to believe that both Matt Murdock and the character known as Daredevil are killed when the Hand's Midland Circle office tower collapses. That way, when Daredevil returns, he won't be bothered with pesky court cases. For Castle, he lets The Punisher go underground, while he lives a life under an assumed name of Pete Castigliano.
I had to admit, I was kind of impressed actually, when we first met "Pete" working on the job site, and taking his grief and memories out on wall after wall of concrete. The long hair, the big bushy mustache and beard, it really did a number on actor Jon Bernthal, who heretofore we had only seen in Frank Castle's marine crew cut hair and clean-shaven face. It took me a minute to recognize him, as his fellow construction workers sneered at him for being "not all there" and "not right in the head."
Pete, it turns out, is a pretty simple guy. He lives in a tiny (and I mean tiny) studio apartment, the kind that could fit inside a walk in closet out in the suburbs. He makes himself cold ham and cheese sandwich to eat every day. He doesn't talk or socialize, he just beats down wall after wall for eight hours a day. Sometimes more, which pisses off his coworkers, because they would be making overtime if he didn't basically work for free.
But humans are social creatures. So on a particularly bad day, after his coworkers not only made fun of him, but ruined his sandwich, Pete found himself making semi-friends with a nice kid named Donnie. Donnie stayed behind and found Frank's hiding spot at lunch and offered him half his sandwich, and told him about his parents (his father had also been a marine) dying in a car crash. He lives with his grandmother, whose health is poor.
Pete almost opened up to Donnie, but caught himself in time. After all, his entire get up, the personality he's chosen, the refusal to talk to other humans, that's all deliberate. It's not because he doesn't want to have friends or get to know people. (Though I'm sure Castle would say it was.) It's because he's trying to protect everyone around him, since those he gets close to wind up getting hurt.
Even so, Donnie almost winds up getting hurt anyway, when he foolishly agrees to go on a robbery with some of his crooked coworkers, and accidentally reveals who he is to the mobsters. His coworkers would have killed him too, if Pete hadn't been smashing walls late at night, like he is wont to do. Instead Pete kills all their coworkers, and rescues Donnie, leaving a note saying to get out of town.
Then he heads to where the robbery took place, and kills every last one of the mobsters too, before they can go after Donnie or his grandmother. So much for laying low huh? Castle might not admit it for several episodes after, but that's the moment the persona of Pete Castigliano dies. And that's all she wrote.